JARED POLIS: Sensible spending plus new revenue — and innovative solutions
Author: Jared Polis - June 7, 2018 - Updated: June 7, 2018
We’ve all felt the downsides of Colorado’s rapid growth — longer commutes, deteriorating roads, more pollution and a rising cost of living.
These aren’t just quality-of-life problems; they’re costing Coloradans their hard-earned money. In some parts of our state, the average driver is losing over $700 per year to car repairs and lost productivity from deteriorating roads and congestion.
We need a bold new vision to ensure the Colorado way of life we love is within reach for everyone.
Kicking the can down the road isn’t an option. Without action today, these problems will only get costlier and become even harder to solve as our quality of life deteriorates. But neither can we just throw more money at the same outdated “solutions.” Nobody wants to see Colorado become a maze of lane expansions and toll roads with poor air quality.
As governor, I will move forward with a plan to build a fully connected transportation network that reduces traffic and expands access to affordable transportation. These are goals that everyone — Republicans, Democrats, and independents — can all work toward, together.
To address our nearly $9 billion shortfall in unmet road repairs, we should consider a combination of new revenue sources and the common sense use of existing funds. Colorado is one of the strongest economies in the country, and choosing between investment in education or transportation is a false choice our government has been forced to make too often in recent years. I share the belief of many Democrats, Republicans and members of the business community that long-term funding options will allow us to make long-term investments in transportation, without cutting funding to areas like education or health care.
We also need innovative solutions that reduce the need for people to drive in the first place. That’s why I support efforts to build a high-speed Front Range Rail system that connects Fort Collins and Pueblo and links to myriad transportation options, such as Bustang, taxi cabs, light rail, intercity bus, and ride-share programs. Doing this will increase the quality of life for Coloradans everywhere — particularly those, including seniors, who often lack access to cars.
As we invest in our rail and roadway infrastructure in Colorado, we will focus on the development of transit-centered affordable housing so that more Coloradans can work and live in the communities that they call home. This is a creative way for us to address traffic congestion and the high cost of living in every part of our growing state, so long as we work toward maintaining the unique character of the cities and towns that we love. It also makes sure that our state isn’t pushing people out of the historic neighborhoods and communities that make Colorado so special.
Finally, internet access today is not a luxury but a necessity. Any plan for infrastructure that doesn’t include universal access to high-speed broadband is simply an outdated proposal. We can make it happen by clearing the way for cities and towns to build their own broadband infrastructure, fostering more public-private partnerships to bring broadband to tough geographic areas, and eliminating the unnecessary red tape that makes it hard for Colorado to fund broadband projects.
Our growing Colorado economy is the envy of states all across America. But it’s time for working Coloradans to share fully in the benefits of that growth rather than shouldering mostly the burdens of it. We need a 21st-century infrastructure to support our 21st-century economy.